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Outline Any Two Theoretical Approaches To Identity And Explain How Each Has Contributed To Our Understanding Of This Concept.

1120 words - 4 pages

From the Psychosocial and Social Identity Theory (SIT) perspectives there different approaches to what makes identity uniquely individual to humans and different from other animals. Each has contributed to our understanding of identity in different ways. Using observational and research methods psychological theorists' show that humans do not have a fixed identity but that identity is complex and diverse, changing throughout a person's life. During which prejudices and discrimination between individuals and groups can occur. Psychosocial theorists such as Erikson and Marcia view identity as interlinked between the personal and social self, where as SIT view identity as a social group and not individual to the person. Each of these perspectives will be now looked at in turn, concluding with an explanation of how they have contributed to our understanding of identity.Psychosocial theorists such as Erikson and Marcia view identity as combination of the personal and social self, that identity is developed in stages throughout a person's life. Through personal and social experiences identity is formed in relation to an individual's own history. For Erikson the most important stage of identity development is during adolescence when he believes an individual's must be achieved. During this period Erikson believed that young people maintain a fluid identity before making fixed decisions about who and what they are; achieving a sense of a secure identity for the future.Marcia further developed the idea of identity by devising the "Semi-Structured Identity Status Interview", (Phoenix 2002, p57) using an Identity Status interview, he explored the attitudes to identity of 18-25 year olds, gathering evidence from individuals own experiences in establishing their identity, "insider accounts" (Phoenix 2002, p101). We can see from this that Psychosocial theorists view identity through an individuals own life experiences, from an "insider account"(Phoenix 2002, p101) point of view, that thou personal and social identities as interlinked, from the Psychosocial perspective identity is completely separate from the personal and social self.SIT on the other hand see social groups as important to developing identity, that people are motivated by group rewards. SIT gather evidence of an individuals identity through "the outsider viewpoint" (Phoenix 2002, p101) and that it is being part of a group is important to an individuals identity, that individuals judge each other according to which group is seen as the most positive group. Evidence of this can be seen in the experimental minimal groups study devised by Tajfel; where boys were randomly allocated to 2 groups, the boys were then asked to allocate points either to a member of their own group ("ingroup") (Phoenix 2002, p63) or to others outside their group ("outgroup") (Phoenix 2002, p63). During this experiment the boy's consistently gave more points to the boys in their own group, this shows prejudices towards...

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